COLORADO MAMMOTH (9-9, 1-0) VS. CALGARY ROUGHNECKS (13-5, 1-0)
THURS MAY 11 | BALL ARENA
7:30 P.M. MT FACEOFF
ALT TV 2 | ESPN+
The Colorado Mammoth earned a berth in the West Conference Finals for the second-straight year after recording a key 13-12 win over the San Diego Seals, deep within enemy territory. Eventually holding a 7-2 lead over the home squad, and No. 1 seed, the defending champs surrendered a goal with nine seconds remaining in the second quarter, still able to take a comfortable 7-3 advantage into the half.
The Seals wouldn’t afford the Mammoth as much comfort in the second half though, as the yellow and purple group outscored the burgundy boys 9-6 in the final 30 minutes of play, but came up just short after seeing Eli McLaughlin seal the deal with a power-play strike with 1.8 seconds to play in the matchup. Though the second half was full of drama, the defending champs had their resilience on full display, as Dillon Ward and the defense got the job done, while allowing Ryan Lee and friends to operate the O-zone.
Despite missing the final two regular season games of the season, playing in just six all year, Lee paced all scorers in the contest with nine points (4g, 5a) after racking up an impressive 10 points (2g, 8a) during last year’s Quarterfinals victory. Eli McLaughlin (4g, 2a) and Zed Williams (2g, 3a) rounded out the most frequent names appearing on the scoresheet, while Chris Wardle and talented D guys in Jordan Gilles and Tim Edwards each finding twine in a contest in which every single goal made a huge difference.
RELATED: Mammoth Gift Seals Extended Summer Vacation with Clutch 13-12 Win
Coming into last weekend’s NLL Quarterfinals, San Diego was notably hungry for revenge after the defending champs knocked them out during the best-of-three West Conference Finals. Other than the eventual NLL Final runners-up in the Buffalo Bandits, who could have it out more for Colorado than those two organizations?
Enter the Calgary Roughnecks: Not only the last team to win an elusive NLL championship before Colorado earned the rights to be called champs, but the team which Colorado sent home even earlier during last year’s Quarterfinals. After dropping the final regular season matchup of the year to Calgary last season, the Mammoth went on to eliminate the black and gray contingency with an impressive 16-11 win north of the border during the first round of action.
Losing after participating in four matches, as the Seals did last year, hurts, but getting knocked out of contention after just 60 minutes of play is downright frustrating.
Eerily similar to this year’s scenario of losing to San Diego in the final game of the regular season, before going on to send them home in the opening round, the NLL’s West Conference awaits the latest chapter of riveting rivalries as two of the league’s most storied franchises go to head-to-head in hoping to earn a berth to the 2023 NLL Finals.
Seeing the Toronto Rock take down the Halifax Thunderbirds (15-11) last Friday and the Buffalo Bandits handle the Rochester Knighthawks via a 20-8 result, paired with both San Diego and Panther City dropping their respective contests to Calgary and Colorado, the NLL postseason is suddenly boiled down to the final four. The Rock and Bandits will renew their postseason rivalry by knocking out Games 1 and 2 of the East Conference Finals on Friday, May 12 and Saturday, May 13, with Saturday, May 20 serving as a hold for a potential Game 3, if needed.
The respective winners from each conference will advance to the 2023 NLL Finals, as the best-of three series has a chance to feature the same two squads who provided the dramatic series just 12 months ago.
RELATED: 2023 NLL Playoff Format: Colorado’s Road to a Repeat
On Saturday afternoon, just before it’s contest inside Pechanga Arena, the Mammoth completed a series of transactions, welcoming back All-Pro Ryan Lee to the Active Roster from a few games spent on the Injured Reserve List and defenseman and activating defenseman Josh Sullivan to the team’s 21 after missing the regular season finale on the Holdout List. In a pair of corresponding moves, defenseman Tyler Garrison and forward Connor Watson were moved to the Practice Player List. Seeing Lee jump right back into action with his team-leading nine points, Most Valuable Player and Calgary goaltender Christian Del Bianco will have his hands full this weekend. Or hopefully, his net, rather.
Mammoth fans can stay tuned to coloradomammoth.com, the team’s social media channels and NLL.com’s transaction page for the team’s latest transactions, news and beyond heading into this weekend’s contest against the Seals.
Thursday’s Game 1 of the West Conference Finals in Denver represents the first of potentially three postseason matchups scheduled against the Roughnecks, as well as the fourth contest to take place between the two West Conference rivals during the 2022-23 slate. It will also represent the second of four competitions to take place inside Ball Arena, with any necessary remaining games for the series set to take place north of the border inside Scotiabank Saddledome.
While Calgary was able to capture the regular season series by earning 13-9 and 16-10 wins over Colorado as the home team, the Mammoth earned a tight 9-8 final the first time the Roughnecks played at the Loud House, and will be amped up to defend their 7-2 regular season record at Ball Arena before the most passionate fans in the league. The West Conference Finals meeting is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. MT and can be viewed on Altitude TV 2 and ESPN+.
Last Time They Played
When the Mammoth and Roughnecks last met, March 10 inside Scotiabank Saddledome, it was Calgary who earned the 16-10 victory and captured the regular season series again.
With Shane Simpson and Zach Currier getting the Roughnecks on the board early on, defenseman Evan Downey and since-departed forward Rhys Duch were able to net a pair of responses within 36 seconds of each other, but Calgary went on to record six-straight goals (receiving tallies from Jesse King x2, Josh Currier, Tanner Cook, Mitch Wilde and Haiden Dickson) to run the score up to 8-2 with five minutes remaining in the opening half. Zed Williams stopped the bleeding for Colorado shortly after Dickson’s conversion, but late opening-half goals from Dan Taylor, Zach Currier and Haiden Dickson quickly updated the scoreboard to read 11-3 at the break.
Eventually creating a 10-goal lead after Josh Currier and Taylor each scored within the opening 66 seconds of play, the Mammoth found themselves needing a dire comeback in order to turn things around. Summoning whatever effort and enthusiasm the squad had left in them, Colorado would outscore Calgary 7-3 in the final 29 minutes of the second half, as Dylan Kinnear (x2), Williams (x2), Jalen Chaster, Brett McIntyre and Rhys Duch got involved. Ultimately, the comeback effort fell short, but the Mammoth displayed its will to battle back, an element they’ll need to remember throughout its upcoming three-game series against the same organization.
Get in the Game
Mammoth games can be viewed on Altitude TV and streamed live via ESPN+. Thursday’s game against the Calgary Roughnecks can be viewed on Altitude TV 2 and ESPN+. Mammoth fans can keep an eye on coloradomammoth.com and the team’s social media channels for the latest news, transactions and organizational updates throughout the 2022-23 NLL season.
Limited tickets remain for Thursday’s West Conference Finals showdown, as Game 1 will be played inside the LOUD HOUSE on Thursday, May 11.
Don’t miss out on the only chance of the series to root the burgundy boys on in person, and what better venue to cheer on the travelling Denver Nuggets in than the one they share with the Mammoth?! We’ll see you LOUD and PROUD Thursday night!